Monday, December 29, 2008


I watched Harvey Milk's biographical film today, at times with tears flowing from my eyes. It saddens me that basic human rights often take several generations and a lot of sacrifice, even bloody human sacrifices, to acquire ... and it made me think that maybe the Christians, when they carried out their hateful anti-gay propaganda and spread lies about gay citizens (both in the seventies and recently in the 2008 elections) provided the fuel that the gay community needed. They made everyone in the gay community feel threatened with the fear of living in an age where we would lose our jobs only for being gay, and made us pull our resources together to really BECOME an organized community.

Without the threat from the Christian Reich, we would not have needed to fight for power and for equal rights. It was an ugly but powerful incentive.

Please watch the movie. Every gay person in this country owes much to the gay activists of the previous generations.

"We stand on the shoulders of those that came before us" - Yoruba proverb

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A beacon of liberty

Nobel Peace Price winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa said recently that homophobia is a "crime against humanity" and "every bit unjust" as apartheid.

While most countries surrounding South Africa remain in the dark ages with regards to the rights of African LGBT citizens, this one country shines as an example of democratic values. It is the first country in the continent to give full equal rights, including marriage rights, to its gay and lesbian citizens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thank You!

An atheist wrote a letter to the Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church.

I am a student at Blue Valley North High school. I was never originally a student from BVHS. I moved here in October 2005 after leaving my hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi. Yes I am a Hurricane Katrina victim. I want to thank you for bringing knowledge into my life.

After Katrina happened I kept asking myself "why did this happen" "how come everything in my grandmother's house have to be destroyed" "how come the government was so ineffecient" "why did my life have to change". Thanks to you guys I am now aware it is because of HOMOSEXUALITY! Not global warming, not the fact that the government is unstable, not the fact that my grandmother wasn't properly prepared, and not because it was a major catastrophe, but because gays are in the world. Hell I can't even blame it on me because I'm an athiest when I have a perfectly good homosexual scapegoat sitting right next to me in one of my classes.

Then came my move to Blue Valley North. Well apperently God hates me there too! Thank goodness I don't believe in God or I would have very low self esteem!

I'm glad you pickett funerals, because when you do die, I will be there, and I will show you no mercy.

You're lucky "God loves" you guys, because no one else seems to. I guess what I wanted to say is that every bad moment that has ever happened in your life was brought upon yourself and if you think it's bad living on earth with all these homosexuals, then I can't wait for whatever hell awaits you.

Allison the Athiest

(I decided to not post Timothy Phelps' reply. It was too vulgar.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Verses that didn't make it into the Bible

"Tell Mary (Magdalene) to leave us. For women are not worthy of life." - Peter, in the Gospel of Thomas

"I am afraid of Peter. He threatens me and hates our race." - Mary Magdalene, in Pistis Sophia

Go figure!

"At this stage in my life, I am a loser" - Ted Haggard

HBO will be screening “The Trials of Ted Haggard”, a documentary which details the rise and fall of the closeted evangelical homophobe, who remains married but recently declared he still struggles with sexuality.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The conclusion of the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, for example, was that only 16% of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospels are actually authentic, accurate portrayals of what Jesus really said. The other 84% are words read into the Jesus of history by an interpreting community during the oral period. Much of what the gospels call the acts of Jesus fall into a similar statistical spread.

- Bishop John Shelby Spong

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fortune cookie wisdom :~)

I surrender the HOW
and let my YES
be enough
and I allow my YES
to inform, fund and guide me

- The Chicago Center for Spiritual Living, a progressive New Thought community

Monday, December 15, 2008

Doubting Thomas

Thomas Jefferson actually made his own Gospel by removing the fabulous and mythical elements in the Gospels and keeping only the ethical teachings of Jesus. The resulting Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, remains to this day a document which is actually revered by many secularists and non-religious (cultural) Christians.

Behind this book, however, and coupled with a profound respect for the man Jesus of Nazareth and his sophisticated ethical philosophy, lies a profound distrust and antipathy toward organized religion. It's very illuminating to read what this founding father had to say about the Christian Church, especially in light of the current attacks that our secular, liberal and democratic values are suffering by religious fanatics. Here are some quotes:

"The Christian God can be easily pictured as virtually the same as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, evil and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed, beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of the people who say they serve him. The are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites." - Thomas Jefferson

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man." - Thomas Jefferson

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. - Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt

The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford

My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith

Priests ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live. - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. - Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short

And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason, and freedom of thought in these United States, will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors. - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Feminist critique of the legend of Sodom and Gomorrah

I read the book Shekhinah: She Who Dwells Within some years back. The author Lynn Gottlieb is a rabbi and a feminist. The book is a manifesto where a revised, contemporary, re-envisioned expression of Judaism is presented from her perspective.

The main thing that this book did for me was it opened my eyes to the long history of dissent that exists in the Jewish tradition, out of which the Americanized Jewish Reform movement was born. This westernized Jewish tradition is a brilliant, progressive, liberal expression of Judaism. It is what Judaism should have been from the beginning.

This admirable tradition where old ideas are challenged constantly in order to produce more intelligent expressions of religion has unfortunately not yet taken root in the Islamic world, although some Christian traditions have taken part of this same process.

Conservatives generally take for granted (in error) that scriptures were written for all eternity to remain unchanged, that they are set in stone and are not changeable. Gottlieb presents us with a challenge to this notion which not only makes sense, but is a much more dynamic insight than it seems and it carries the possibility of forever transforming Biblical patriarchal presumptions.

One of the most revolutionary (and commonsense) ideas that Gottlieb's book presents is the fact that the Bible was written by men, from men's perspective, and that if it had been written by the women, from the women's perspective, it would have been a completely different document.

She cites the laws in Deuteronomy 22 concerning the stoning of women, even if they were raped, and the fact that women were to be sold to their sexual predators and the Bible even sets a price for them. She asked: How would the women of Biblical times have related their experience of these laws, if they had not been silenced and made invisible? What version of this paradigm would they have presented in scripture? It was a brillant argument.

Jewish women found a voice during the Middle Ages in the midrashic tradition. The midrash were Jewish legends which were passed down orally, usually by the women.

Gottlieb produced several midrash in her book where she envisioned the women of the Bible telling their own stories for the first time. She emphasized the importance and the need for women to speak up and tell their own stories from their own perspective. I think members of the gay community should also do the same within their churches or synagogues, so that our sacred history will not continue to be told by our oppressors as it was in the past.

This takes me to the subject that I originally wanted to address: the women in the Sodom and Gomorrah legend. The problem of how this legend is used to legitimize attacks on gay monogamous relations, besides being demoralizing and comparing a relationship between two consenting adults to gang rape, presents us with another, equally obscene problem: Lot, who is presented by the authors of the Bible as a model of hospitality, offers his own daughters to his neighbors to be raped ... and then gets drunk and he himself rapes them.

The daughters of Lot were children. According to the story that is told in the Bible, THEY were the ones who got him drunk and tempted him. Lot was apparently not expected to abstain from drinking and having sex with his daughters. It really seems as if the commandment to breed and multiply was more important than the universal taboo against incest.

The moral dilemma is, in the end, comparable to what we find in Deuteronomy 22: fundamentalists who attribute moral authority to the authors of this legend apparently fail to be disgusted at the fact that the aggressor is praised and the victims of the aggression are blamed for being raped, and they fail to observe the twisted effects that this legend has had in our culture. The same dynamic was seen in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal in recent years, where the victims were minors who were manipulated through guilt by the religious authorities.

In these passages the women were raped, abused, murdered, sold to sexual predators by their own fathers, victimized and silenced while the men made the laws and wrote the scriptures. No one thought of asking them what they wanted or what they thought, and no one allowed them to articulate their ideas.

Here, it would be wise to apply Lynn Gottlieb's technique of telling the stories from the perspective of the women. What if Lot's daughters had written the legend of Sodom and Gomorrah from their perspectives? What would it sound like, using today's verbiage?

"Strangers came to our city and our neighbors tried to rape them. Dad wanted to hand us over to our neighbors to be raped. Then dad waited for mom to die and then dad used to get drunk and rape us, and that is how we came to have dad's children."

Is this an ideal father? Is this how a revered patriarch should act? Is this a healthy model for family values? It is justifiable to attribute moral authority to the authors of the Bible, in view of the fact that they wrote this legend in defence of Lot? Is it fair to focus on the very real problem of gang rape when we read this legend, and to ignore the other very real problem of how a man can offer his own daughters to be raped, and how a man can drink himself into such a stupor that he forgets that he is having sex with his own daughters?

If we can learn something from this legend, it's that the authors of the Bible had a profound hatred of women and that this is evidence of an absolute lack of human values, in particular when it comes to how women are perceived, especially when they are victimized. This is just one of the many reasons why I believe that the Bible should be amended, re-written, edited, or updated.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arguments against Paul

Argument 1: Paul's immoral views on slavery, women and gays

In Ephesians 6 Paul told slaves to be loyal to their masters, comparing slave-masters to Christ. In 1 Timothy 6, he again advised submission, praising his own teachings by saying that they were a 'sane doctrine'.

Jesus said by their fruits we shall know them. Paul's teachings on slavery were used by the Portuguese crown in Brasil when they commissioned Antonio Vieira, a Catholic priest, to produce a slavist theology and to teach slaves to submit to their white Portuguese masters. The theology that Vieira produced was absolutely obscene. He promoted the 'mark of Cain' doctrine, whereby blacks were the children of Cain and blackness was a curse. Africa was compared to hell, and servitude to white Christians was the only way to salvation.

Paul also promoted a Taliban-ish attitude toward women: they had to cover themselves up, sit in the back of the church and never speak or teach.

And then of course there's the long list of false witness that he bore against gays in Romans 1, where he even called gay people assasins, and then he concluded in verse 32 with his stance that gay people deserve to be murdered, as well as those who enable gay people. This is not coming out of the mouth of Reverend Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, but out of the pen of Paul: it was Paul who first wished gays would all just fall dead. There is still consensus among conservative Christians that it is okay to question gay people's right to exist, although many refuse to admit this problem. But in the dark ages, gays were cooked alive in public and no one experienced guilt, thanks to Paul the Bigot.

Paul's homophobia was the first thing that made me raise an eyebrow with regards to who he was and what he was doing writing epistles supposedly in the name of Jesus, whom he never met. I would like to share some of the facts that we can glean from scripture on this character, and let each person come to her or his own understanding and conclusion with regards to Paul.

Argument 2: "The lot fell to Matthias", says the Bible

I believe that the first and most important verse to ponder is Acts 1:22 where Paul's status as an apostle is flatly denied. When Judas was no longer considered an apostle, the disciples cast lots. Two candidates were considered, none of whom was Paul, and Matthias was chosen as the new twelfth apostle.

Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
- Acts 1:26

Argument 3: "But do not ye be called rabbi", says Jesus in Matthew 23:8

It is clear in the Bible that Paul was no apostle, however he claimed to be one in 2 Timothy 1:11. I wonder how Matthias felt ... and the people who chose Matthias.

"And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher (rabbi)." - Paul

This verse is also an instance where Paul directly contradicts Jesus, who said: "do not have yourselves called teachers". By having himself called "teacher", he was challenging and contradicting Jesus. He clearly did not know that Jesus had said this.

Can someone who contradicts the Christ be considered a Christian prophet or apostle?

Argument 4: "They gave me nothing"

The mutual animosity between the apostles and Paul is evident in numerous verses of scripture: from Acts 9:26 we see that many did not trust or believe in Paul from the beginning. He had this to say about the apostles in Galatians 2:6

"As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn't concern me. God isn't impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching."

Let's brush aside the air of arrogance and jealousy in this verse (which we will see again in 2 Corinthians 11:5) and look at what he is saying. Other translations say 'they gave me nothing'. The Spanish versions say they 'taught me nothing'. Now, in those days the only way to learn the good news was hearing it from those who had heard it from Jesus because the Gospels had not been written. We know that Paul never met Jesus. This explains why Paul does not, ever, not even once mention one single teaching, one parable, or one event from the life of Jesus. If the disciples and apostles 'gave him nothing', then this can only mean that he basically made up his own gospel.

Argument 5: The vision on the road to Damascus

The claim that he had a vision on his way to Damascus has 3 different versions which all contradict each other in Acts 9:7, 22:9 and 26:14. In one version he falls to the floor, but in 26:14 they all fall to the floor, not just Paul. In one version the others hear a voice and see a light, in another they see nothing. One would think they would remember exactly what they saw and heard. It does not sound like a believable account. Furthermore, this is Christ's veredict in the Gospels:

"... if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it." - Matthew 24:23

Argument 6: Paul's confession

Paul himself, in his own letters, attests to his own dishonesty. This is as revealing as Jeremiah 8:8!

"Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!"
- Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:16

Argument 7: The church in Ephesus

... I know that you ... have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. - Revelation 2:2

Here we see that at least one of the authors of the Bible mentions that there were false APOSTLES. Notice that it is not false 'prophets' but specifically 'false apostles' that are mentioned here. We should then ask ourselves: who claimed to be an apostle without being one?

Revelation 2:2 mentions that at least one church will speak openly about this false apostle: the Church of Ephesus. In 2 Timothy 1:15, Paul himself admits that he had been rejected in Asia ... and he concludes this chapter specifically mentioning that it concerned the Church of Ephesus.

The fact that Revelation 2 praises those who rejected Paul (I can't think of who else they may have been refering to) is even more important and shocking if we consider the fact that this chapter concerns the final judgement. In other words, whoever wrote this was hoping that these verses would be diluscidated in the last days.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. - Matthew 7:15

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder. - Genesis 49:27

... I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. - Paul, in Romans 11:1

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Burning Bush

A recent dig site in the Gobi desert has revealed the oldest marijuana stash in recorded history. It belonged to a shaman who lived 2,700 years ago. The shaman also had a leather medicine bag.

In a study that was made public by professor Benny Shanon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem earlier this year it was also revealed that there is a likelihood that Moses was also high at Mount Sinai, and that his experience there may have been a sort of vision quest.

Many people don't know (and Rastas are quick to educate us) that the scientific name for the herb, cannabis, actually originated in the Bible in Exodus 30:23, where qaneh bosm is one of the ingredients of a sacred oil with which items and priests were consecrated. In Victorian era Bibles this was translated as aromatic herb, aromatic cinnamon, or aromatic cane. No version of the Bible uses the more obvious verbiage, cannabis.

Prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 9:9 also later admitted that there was originally no difference between seers (shamans) and prophets. This means that the use of the sacred herb cannabis may even precede Biblical times, as we know that many of the traditions of the Levite priests had Sumerian and Egyptian roots.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You ARE what you eat

A new study suggests that sugar may be addictive. It even says,

A "sugar addiction" may even act as a "gateway" to later abuse of drugs such as alcohol, Hoebel said.

Visit for more information about agave nectar, a healthy, vegan alternative to traditional sweeteners. Because it is not derived from bees, proposers of animal rights are the main consumers of agave since we are not stealing the food that bees harvest for themselves. Agave is derived from cacti.

People who suffer from diabetes, obesity, high colesterol and other health problems may also benefit from consuming agave nectar instead of sugar and honey.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wooly Mammoth making a comeback

I had read that scientists were going to try to bring back the wooly mammoth by implanting DNA from fossils that had been found in Russia in the wombs of elephants. Over a couple of generations, one could conceivably produce a new, modern branch of the wooly mammoth.

Then I saw this video of a baby wooly mammoth fossil that was found in Siberia almost completely intact. In theory, they should be able to extract enough DNA from this specimen to be able to clone him.

I would argue that cloning should be considered moral and entirely appropriate, perhaps even the right thing to do, if the species is extinct or in danger of becoming extinct, perhaps in part due to hunting done by humans.

As a side note, there is also talk of bringing back dinosaurs by using large flightless birds known as emus, from Australia, and arresting their avian development, in effect producing a more primitive, saurian version of it.

Genetically engineered pets are also not just a matter of science fiction anymore. I was shocked to see the webpage ... and relieved to find out it's a hoax (or, as the webpage author calls it, it's art).